10 Classic Rules for Stylish Ladies
Source: Illustration by Megan Hess
First of all, this is just a guide based on my own personal thoughts on what I perceive a stylish woman to be. Of course style is more than just owning a bunch of ‘things’, it’s about mannerisms, the way a woman walks, talks, and behaves in society. But that is something I will leave for another time because it’s too much to go through all that in a single post.
Over the years I have been able to learn a lot from my mother, grandmother, books, fashion icons etc. So this is just a short summary of all those things I’ve learned:
1. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
I have a whole post dedicated to this #1 rule: Click. Quality items make a woman look that much more expensive and classy. If you have a minimalist wardrobe that’s spacious and displays investment pieces, you will feel good and that outshines anything else. No need to sift through clutter whenever you’re looking for an outfit. Just decide what is important to you and invest in those pieces accordingly.
By quality I don’t mean everything needs to be designer whatever-ness. That’s not the point. Designer does NOT equal quality; there are some high-end outfits out there that have people looking like they’re straight up homeless. No. What I’m saying is you should de-clutter your closet and go out and learn about good leather, cashmere, silks and get a single piece that is well-rounded to suit any occasion. Set a budget solely dedicated to items that you are loyal to. These would include: winter coats, handbags, shoes and occasion dresses.
2. LUXURY MAKEUP & BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Don’t forget the first rule here. QUALITY. Some people pile up beauty products to a point where they expire before they’ve been opened. For the every-day essentials, I recommend buying the lux good quality ones, as for things like eye shadow or lipstick varieties, pharmaceutical brands works fine. Lately I’ve been into fresh and all-natural products for my face: this is probably the most delicate and sensitive of areas on our body, so we need to use good-quality sunscreens, cleansers, toners and lotions to prevent damage or irritation.
On the topic of make-up. I think every woman should own a classic-red lipstick, pink-tone blush, black mascara, concealer and red nail-polish. Even if you don’t use any foundation, eyeliners or eye-shadows; I find that a little concealer under the eyes, a touch of blush, mascara and some red lipstick change a woman’s look entirely – red is striking and it seems to me that the pop of color masks any skin imperfections.
3. DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
Sometimes I want to shake people who just don’t get it. Dude, you can wear ripped jeans whenever you want, why the heck are you wearing them to a dinner party? I think if you’re heading to an occasion that is not a regular occurrence, don’t wear your regular clothes. It just makes sense. I’m all about comfort but seriously, dress appropriately when you need to. No tennis shoes at weddings, or leggings and flip flops at work. Actually, no flip-flops in general unless you’re going to a pool party or hitting the beach. If you’re traveling, you don’t need to be wearing platform heels and mini-skirts on the plane, the same goes for shopping. Learn what is appropriate to wear for every occasion in your life.
I recommend checking out this book: Nina Garcia’s Lookbook: What to Wear for Every Occasion and this article: Art Institute’s “Defining Dress Codes”.
4. INVEST IN JEWELRY
Bling makes a boring outfit look spectacular. You know this is true. I’m not talking about accessories here, I think it’s great to have a huge variety to choose from, because they really do make a difference. In this case, I’m focusing on the real fine-variety: gold, jewels, gems, diamonds, etc. If you can afford it (try to keep it to a minimum) but treat yourself to a nice pair of diamond earrings or a gold pendant every few years. The first time I ever felt like a grown-up lady was when I bought my very first piece – a gold and emerald ring. For minimalists: choose the classic pieces that never go out of style and those that you will never get bored of.
5. SEASONAL CLOSET CLEAN-OUT
Get it done. I know it’s not fun and you seriously need to dedicate a whole weekend (or week) to this, but the final result is wonderful. First of all you need to pack away all Spring-Summer clothes and stow them away neatly as soon as you start feeling the cool temps. Fall-Winter clothes should be washed and/or dry-cleaned during those last few weeks to be ready for the new season. This is also a good time to go through any unnecessary items and put them in the three piles of “Keep” “Throw” “Give”. Some of us keep all clothes, regardless of season and they just end up sitting around in our wardrobes. I mean, if you have space that’s fine but I find that it makes me happy to look forward to a new project of cleaning out my closets and starting over in anticipation of the new season.
6. DON’T BE A SLAVE TO TRENDS
Trends come and go. I mean look around you. The older I get, the more I realize I need to be careful when I’m shopping around, especially now that everything is just constantly changing. It’s nice to own a piece or two that’s trendy, but if you’re in to trends, try to get those pieces that can work with what’s fashionable in the moment, and what can still work a year or two from now.
7. FIND A SIGNATURE SCENT
This is not an easy thing to do. This means trying out a bunch of different perfumes, and find which one you feel comfortable with, that never bores you or overwhelms you. If you don’t smell it on you throughout the day and it makes you feel good every time you spray it, that’s the one. I haven’t been able to find my one-and-only signature scent yet, but I do have signature scents for each season. Floral and citrus scents are perfect for spring and summer and the darker vanilla and musk ones are perfect for the cooler months.
8. TREAT YO SELF
Every once in a while, hit the spa and get a facial, massage, manicure whatever. It’s only right to treat yourself because they say that whatever you feel on the inside shows on the outside, right? Or something along those lines. So yeah, go out to a fancy brunch or high tea with your girlfriends, have a croissant and a latte, buy a designer handbag if you really want it, get all dolled up on the weekends even if you have nowhere to go. Life’s too short so take advantage of all these beautiful things and enjoy them guilt-free.
9. BE A SHOE SNOB
What’s that one quote? “You can judge a man (woman) by his (her) shoes”. Oh and another good one: “If your hair is done properly and you’re wearing good shoes, you can get away with anything”. The point I’m trying to make is that shoes make or break an outfit. Even if you’re wearing Prada from head to toe but the shoes look all worn-out shoes, you will look frumpy. So I say, don’t be afraid to spend a little time shopping around when it comes to shoes and it’s okay to indulge…they will last.